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Asthma, Allergies and Food intolerances

If you suffer from allergies then it is sensible to avoid the allergen as much as possible if this aggravates your symptoms. There are some methods of treating allergies by controlled exposure to the allergen in an attempt to desensitize your immune system. However, from experience a practical solution is to not tempt providence and create a cascade of symptoms by ingesting, inhaling or otherwise coming into contact with the triggers for your own symptoms.

Acupuncture may be able to reduce Hayfever and Rhinitis symptoms. There is some evidence-base for the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat hay fever (or allergic rhinitis) according to the World Health Organisation, from a review of controlled clinical trials. For more please see: Diseases and Disorders that can be treated with Acupuncture

From an Osteopathic perspective, asthma may perhaps sometimes have a structural component in rib mechanics and poor breathing patterns, in addition to inflammation and narrowing of the airways. There is admittedly only inconclusive evidence-base that physical therapy, physiotherapy or osteopathy can help with asthma symptoms, but talking to a therapist, (or physiotherapist or osteopath who has an interest in breathing and rib mechanics) about breathing patterns, and becoming more self-aware of these, and what the triggers are to your own asthma might help to give you more a sense of control over your own symptoms.

However, please remember that no change of medication should be contemplated or attempted without discussion about this with your GP. Asthmatics usually tend to get anxious, and this in turn can compound or even trigger the asthma.

Besides Physical therapy (e.g. osteopathy, physiotherapy, etc) there may be other ways to improve poor breathing: e.g. yoga or the Buteyko method. See: Buteyko a ... z

You may also wish to read the Mindful Asthma page in the Pain-management chapter, for how Mindfulness training might also be helpful, in addition to any physical therapy intervention (physiotherapy, osteopathy).

Allergens tend to be proteins (e.g. gluten, nuts, shellfish, pollens) and your immune system overreacts to them, as if they were harmful bacteria, and mobilizes a cascade of inflammatory mediators (histamine, leucotrienes, postraglandins, etc). Asthmatics can also feel more shortness of breath from eating cheese and/or drinking milk, as milk products are mucous forming. Food intolerances may also be involved, and attention has been noted about the possible link between allergies and gut health (and the healthy bacteria in the gut that helps digest and break down food) and the immune system. For more about this please see: How Good Gut Health Can Boost Your Immune System and Got Allergies? Your Microbes Could Be Responsible

According to this, eating to hopefully improve allergies includes:

  1. taking probiotics or eat fermented foods
  2. eating plenty of fermentable fibre
  3. getting tested for sensitivities and avoid inflammatory food
  4. trying a low histamine diet
  5. trying local raw honey, or pollen, for seasonal allergies
  6. getting tested for intestinal pathogens

Food Intolerances are another entire area of health. Some people anecdotally have reported that acupuncture seems to help with digestive issues, and there is some evidence (according to the WHO please see Diseases and Disorders that can be treated with Acupuncture) that acupuncture might help with obesity.

From an Osteopathic perspective, the early American osteopaths, including Andrew Taylor Still and John Littlejohn (The Contribution of John Martin Littlejohn to Osteopathy) were treating 'nervous disorders' that in modern terms we might term 'stress-related illnesses', which could include digestive issues, e.g. 'irritable bowel' or 'spastic colon' (these conditions cannot always be defined precisely). Although the practice notes of the early twentieth century osteopaths (e.g. Littlejohn) do not use terms such as 'irritable bowel' (which are a modern ones).

I must point out here, once again, that there is no evidence-base that osteopathy, manipulation or any physical therapy can help with digestive issues — and I am making no claim whatever in this regard. It is true that contemporary osteopaths, such as Jean Pierre Barral, use 'visceral manipulation' and tissue-specific adjustments to detailed areas (duodenum, ilio-cecal valve, and so on) but again, this is empirical and has no research base (nor probably ever could have) so again, I must stress that I am not making and can never make any claim here, as a clinician, or osteopath, to any effectiveness or benefit from such an approach. I am writing this paragraph, purely from academic interest, and for educated readers, who must draw their own conclusions.

Finally, airborne allergens such as pollens and pet dander can be greatly reduced with HEPA filters, Ionisers, and other products to minimize contact. One of the best web-sites I have found for almost every allergy related product on the market is: AllergyBestBuys

There are extensive product ranges for: asthma, respiratory, COPD, eczema, irritant contact dermatitis, hayfever and rhinitis. This UK based company will post to NZ. Small packages and not hugely expensive items (around $400 or less) do not attract GST at customs.


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